Were one given no background information, “Dead Empires” could easily be mistaken for a guitar-heavy b-side from Depeche Mode’s 1983 album Construction Time Again. Fast forward more than three decades to welcome a fresh take on a classic sound — originating not from England but Saratoga Springs, New York.
Enter The Black Ships. Muscular pop with an industrial edge, the title track from the band’s forthcoming sophomore LP Dead Empires features John Gill, a vocal doppelgänger for Dave Gahan, Greg Tebbano (guitar/synths), David Ochal (bass) and Ben Patten (drums).
Recorded in late 2013, Dead Empires is the follow up to The Black Ships’ 2011 debut, Oceans. To be released on 4 December, the only thing missing from the lead single is a video directed by Anton Corbijn.
Stream “Dead Empires” below and pre-order Dead Empires on limited edition vinyl, CD and digital formats via Bandcamp.
The Black Ships, "Dead Empires"
Looking to the past for inspiration can prove tricky and downright foolish if you're not well-versed enough to understand why you should be drawing upon those artists in the first place. For nostalgic New York fuzzed-out dream rockers The Black Ships, however, this understanding seems ingrained in every note and chord they play. It's obvious that bands such as Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen have played a considerable part in their formative musical upbringing, but there is also an energetic, rebellious tint to the music that comes solely from The Black Ships.
With their newest single, "Dead Empires," the band furthers this mysterious and dark melodicism, creating a sound that's as equally indebted to those prior influences as it is to the band's own sense of musical discovery. This song feels half-buried, caked in distortion and dirt. But despite this unhinged exterior, there is a seriously catchy melody at its heart, and The Black Ships know enough to let it run wild for as long as it wants. The guitars spin and slice through the air while the drums conjure images of darkened underground bars in the early '80s. The Black Ships are carrying the mantle passed on by a handful of genres that provided the necessary impetus for each member's own musical awareness, and doing it without even breaking a sweat.
The Black Ships are a post-punk group from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with a surprising amount of energy. “Dead Empires” sounds like it was recorded in an echoing cave with John Gill’s macabre vocals lining the edges, but that guitar line is perpetual and occasionally even dancey. Download “Dead Empires” below; it’s the title track from their new LP, which comes out December 4.
Saratoga Springs, NY band, The Black Ships are preparing to self-release Dead Empires on December 4th. Surviving the Golden Age is excited to premiere the album’s lead single “Dead Empires.” The track would sound at home on 80s college radio. The guitar sound seems ripped directly out of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with vocals more akin to Echo and the Bunnymen. There is not a lot that sounds “modern” about “Dead Empires” but there doesn’t need to be when you nail the past this well.